What is Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT)?
Although Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) has been criticized by some in the media, there are increasing reports supporting its use. For decades, traditional medicine has supported the use of synthetic Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), but the risks associated and documented with synthetic HRT are numerous and frightening. Therefore, some practitioners feel bioidentical hormone therapy may be a safer alternative to traditional Synthetic Hormone Therapy.
What is the difference between BHRT and HRT?
Bio-identical Hormone Therapy have a chemical structure identical to hormones the body makes naturally, while non-bio-identical hormones are structurally different. The molecular shape, composition, and structure must be identical to what is made in the human body to provide the perfect fit with the body’s receptor sites.
What are the risks associated with synthetic HRT?
The two biggest risks involve breast cancer and cardiovascular disease. In 1991, the Women’s Health Initiative demonstrated that a synthetic progestin (instead of bioidentical progesterone) as a part of HRT significantly increased the risk for breast cancer. It also demonstrated that a therapy regimen that included synthetic progestin resulted in a substantial increase in the risk of heart attack and stroke.
What are the benefits of BHRT?
Dr. Kent Holtorf, MD, renowned BHRT expert and founder and director of the National Academy of Hypothyroidism, wrote a comprehensive paper on BHRT in 2009. After the review of multiple independent patient studies, Dr. Holtorf concluded that bio-identical hormones are safer and more effective than commonly used synthetic ones. He also stated that they decrease the risk for breast cancer, heart disease, heart attack and stroke. Similarly, he also cited that the women in all of the studies “reported greater satisfaction, fewer side effects, and improved quality of life when they were switched from synthetic progestin to progesterone replacement”. Read Dr. Holtorf’s paper.
What hormones can be compounded into a custom BHRT medication?
Some of the commonly prescribed bioidentical hormones are:
- Estrogen: This category refers to the female sex hormones (estradiol, estrone, estriol). Estrogen hormones play an essential role in the growth and development of female secondary sexual characteristics such as breasts, pubic and armpit hair, endometrium, regulation of the menstrual cycle and the reproductive system.
- Progesterone: Progesterone helps to prevent thickening of the uterine lining caused by estrogen and decreases the risk of developing uterine cancer. Progesterone has also been shown to improve sleep patterns commonly associated with perimenopause and menopause.
- Testosterone: Testosterone belongs to a class of male hormones called androgens, but women also produce small amounts of testosterone. Testosterone plays an essential role in bone density, fat distribution, muscle strength and mass, sex drive and perm production.
- DHEA: When DHEA levels are low, the body does not have enough working material for proper endocrine function. This throws off hormone production and patients feel a general sense of illness, along with other symptoms of hormonal imbalance — how severe depends on how many other demands are being made on your body at the same time.
How can I get BHRT?
BHRT is available by prescription only, written by a licensed physician or healthcare practitioner. Hormone levels can be measured by a simple blood draw or self- administered saliva test. If you think Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy might be right for you, contact your physician or compounding pharmacy and discuss your options with them.
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